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Studio Will Be Close: WIELS opens exhibition of works by former artists-in-residence
Lina Viste Grønli, Studio View, Boston, 2013. Courtesy the artist.

BRUSSELS.- Last summer, WIELS dedicated an exhibition to its former artists-in-residence for the first time. In charge of the second edition’s selection and concept is guest curator Lorenzo Benedetti, whose point of departure is the fine line and particular interaction between production and presentation at the art centre. What lies in between the physical proximity of the working studios and exhibition spaces turns out to be more than just a symbolic separation.

During the Exhibition, the Studio Will Be Close
The paradigm that develops between the artist’s studio and the exhibition space has al- ways been central in art. One of the best definitions of the relationship between creative and exhibition space is clearly to be found in the Pavillon du Réalisme of 1855, where Courbet showed The Painter’s Studio, the large and famous canvas whose subject is his studio. In it, Courbet shows the two horizons of artistic work: depicted on one side is an exhibition space in which to show some of the works that had been refuted by the Salon that same year, and on the other his studio. The public is the common denominator of the canvas portraying his studio and the construction of the Pavillon du Réalisme during the first World Fair to be held in Paris. His canvas represents the public allegorically while, simultaneously, a real public is visiting the exhibition.

Naturally, the paradigm between studio and exhibition space is mirrored in that between private and public. The isolation of the artist in his studio is then multiplied in the exhibition space. With Mapping the Studio, from 2002, Bruce Nauman achieves a kindred concept to Courbet’s: he shows a studio that is constantly active, even when the artist is not working.

During the Exhibition, the Studio Will Be Close is the second episode of a recurrent commitment made by WIELS that relates the artists formerly involved in the residency programme to its exhibition programme. The proximity of the studios to the exhibition spaces prompts increased attention to the following questions: what is the exhibition space, and what is there behind a show? The studio, research but, above all, time, another fundamental notion when we speak of exhibition space.

In the studio, the artist employs time. The analogy of the show as a studio, a place of research, is strengthened by the presence of artist studios that highlight the ‘contemporaneity’ of the exhibition. When the public visits the exhibitions at WIELS, there are, in the same building, artists who are at that moment creating, researching and elaborating new projects. In a way, it is inconceivable to imagine an exhibition dedicated to contemporary art without a corresponding studio space.

The exhibition space becomes the studio’s alter ego, or, conversely, finds itself in a situation of proximity that, at WIELS, is not purely symbolic. Its importance as the framework of artistic creation develops above all on the aspect of originality that turns the studio into the place where art originates.

From this perspective, the studio becomes the closest moment between work and author. The importance of the relation between studio and exhibition space is delineated in a process that multiplies the individual moment of the studio and displaces it into a collective dimension. In this sense, every work made in one’s individual and intimate studio is a prospective projection towards the exhibition spaces.

The artist’s studio is a place of perennial reflection on the state of art, a place to elaborate and transform what happens in the exhibition space, which, for its part, wants to fix a particular state of art by showing the contents of the artist’s studio. This dynamics is evident at WIELS, which combines these two characteristics and hence creates an energy between the isolation of the studio and the multiplication of the aesthetic experience of the exhibition. An energy that, in a way, affects also the identity of the institution, creating a dynamic between studio and exhibition in which research becomes the basic common denominator between the two spaces.

And so it happens that, on the one side, we work to fix and establish for the public new art canons, while on the other is a transformative process that calls the very gesture of fixing and establishing into question. The studio here is not simply a space, but the consequence of the active process of mining the precarious stability of the formulations issuing from the exhibition.

Artists: Melissa Gordon, Lina Viste Grønli, Rob Johannesma, Aukje Koks, G. Küng, Cathérine Lommée, Emmanuelle Quertain, and Grace Schwindt

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